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Medical Mistakes Led to Swab Being Left inside a New Mum

Author: Neil Fearn  Bullet  Dated: 14/06/2013

A mother who gave birth at Bath’s Royal United Hospital has had a medical swab removed 10 days after hospital staff left it inside her.

Although there were no lasting health complications, this was an uncomfortable experience for the new mother.

Hospital Investigates Medical Mistakes

Swindon Great Western Hospital (GWH) who runs the maternity unit is investigating this unforgivable act. GWH has had 6 similar events between 2011 and 2012 including a swab being left in a breast cancer patient.

A swab can be a cotton wool bud or gauze used to clean or apply pressure to a wound. It was left in the new mum following the delivery of her baby and was there for a subsequent 10 days. It was removed later during a routine post-natal check-up.

Ensuring safety rules are followed

These incidents are referred to as 'never events' - something the government says should never happen if patient safety rules are followed.

However, medical mistakes and 'never events' are not exclusive to Bath Royal United Hospital. Two mothers giving birth in Bolton were left suffering health complications after swabs were left inside of them.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust has introduced a new 'Swabsafe' system to be rolled out in all theatres to ensure that staff count all swabs.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents, said: "I have to say that even in a planned environment, occasionally these things are still happening. They’re happening more than they should do."

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